It is possible that moving to the country from the city was one of the worst decisions my family ever made. We moved from a place where my younger son was invited to so many birthday parties that I had to keep a closet stocked with last-minute gifts to a place where he managed to go through most of elementary school without being invited to a single one.
Of course, the fact that he has two sets of grandparents, three uncles, three aunts and three cousins here in our little town made up for it. Being surrounded by loving family can help to make up for the rejection of peers and even their parents.
Alas, this was my fantasy and not reality. No family member has taken much of an interest in my son — to the point where it simply wouldn’t matter where we live when it comes to his interactions with them.
Once the S disease showed its face, I noticed that it helped my son to be around people who distracted him from what was happening in his mind. Desperate, I became bold.
“Will you take Younger Son fishing with you the next time you go?” I asked one family member. “Why not include Younger Son the next time you decide to spend a day in (neighboring city). He would love that!” I suggested to another.
Next, I tried guilt.
“Why don’t you ever spend time with your grandson?” I asked my parents.
They didn’t fall for it. Nothing has changed.
More desperate still, I asked people at the house church I was attending. I said something like, “Younger Son really needs connections with other people, role models. Will someone consider taking him under their wing a bit?”
I wish I’d never asked that question. Coping with my grief over the lack of response has been difficult.
I have a friend who has a son who is emotionally disturbed. They don’t ask for help. I used to think this was perhaps prideful, but now realize it is probably realistic on their part.
Here’s the thing. There are any number of Christians who are happy to lay hands on my son and pray for him. I appreciate this. Prayer is powerful.
When you pray for bonds to be broken and healing to take place, God often answers prayers. He is a miraculous God, and sometimes He does things in mysterious ways.
Often, though, He is quite practical. He uses the people in His church as his hands and feet to accomplish His goals. He uses their love.
He sent me and my son a friend who hugs my son. She includes him in some of her plans. She even buys him little gifts. There is now a third person in his life who demonstrably loves him.
I am thankful for this. Oh boy, am I thankful. I wonder though, what if even more people loved my son in a visible way? I know that love heals.
I’ve been reading the diary of George Fox, the man who inadvertently founded the Quakers — some of the few Christians in the United States who actively resisted the institution of slavery. Fox frequently went into the churches in England and asked “Where is your fruit?”
I relate to Fox, because that is just how I feel.
The fruit of Christians should be healing love and not rejection. What if every Christian in our communities welcomed someone who is hurting into his or her life? Can you imagine the difference this would make?
In my town of 30,000, there are probably 10,000 people who attend church. These folks diligently give to food banks, the homeless ministry and other worthy causes. There are so many volunteers at our homeless shelter that it is ridiculous — they hardly have any slots to squeeze new ones in. Yet when I drive past the homeless shelter, the homeless people are always sitting outside the building alone.
No one should ever be alone in the midst of Christians.
Oh what a difference we could make if we gave ourselves over to action to complement our belief.
The lovely print is available for sale on Etsy — click on photo.